Society relies on social media for up-to-date information
By Rob Reardon
When you meet someone for the first time, you judge them based on how they look. Oh, wait, we are not supposed to do that. But seriously, we might look to see if they are neatly groomed, have stains on their clothes, etc. This is no different when people see one of your social media accounts for the first time. People’s first impression of your department is how your social media accounts look and are set up. They might not even realize they are doing this but subconsciously this is being done.
Your social media accounts should represent YOUR department. You want that representation to be great! When you set up your images, patches, and logos, they should look professional. They should fit within the parameters of each social media platform. If your patch doesn’t fit in the space given by the social media platform, then you need to fix that. Would a private business allow its logo to not fit in the space given by a social media company? So why do you think it is alright to have your logo that has poor quality, sits slightly crooked, and overlaps the edges remain on your account? It isn’t okay, and you need to fix it.
I often hear that there is no one in a certain department that is tech savvy to help with social media graphics. I will tell you that you are not alone. We worked with our local high school’s students, who helped us to make all our graphics that we use to this day on our social media accounts. Kids today have grown up around technology and social media. They are a tremendous resource if you can get them to engage with you. I have used high school fire interns for years to help me with my department’s social media presence. Kids are very in tune with social media and ways to get your message to more people.
We are all very busy and doing more with less. We need to find ways to get our messaging out quickly and effectively. High school kids who are interested in the fire service can be a tremendous help to your department. Our interns have spent countless hours making social media content for not only our department but other neighboring departments. All content that they make is sent to me for approval, but they have great ideas and are looking to be part of something.
How about tapping into kids that have talent in shooting and editing videos? We have been lucky enough to use the talents of local kids who have made amazing videos showcasing the work that our firefighters are doing. These videos not only help our department but also give kids a chance to put their talents to work. Here is a link to a 2019 year-end video edited by Tyler Reardon, a fire department intern/high school student.This video was seen by thousands on multiple platforms and is an amazing way to show people what our department had done that year.
Our department has found social media to benefit us in so many ways. Social media is an important tool for recruiting firefighters. In our last round of interviews, many applied to our department because of what they saw on our social media accounts. Several prospective candidates wrote in their cover letters about our social media accounts and the attraction to our department. This increased our application pool tremendously with qualified candidates who might not have otherwise applied to our department.
Our social media account also allows us to keep so many of our taxpayers informed daily of what their fire department is doing. This constant flow of information makes it much easier when we are requesting money for capital projects because they have seen how busy we are and how much we use our equipment.
My department started its Web page in 2002 when that was cutting edge! Today, we don’t see the traffic like we did back then. Many of the visitors to our Web page are sent through social media. Society relies on social media for up-to-date information. By putting your information out on social media, your residents are getting it straight from the source.
Is your department still not on social media? Social media isn’t going away. Social media is a tool that has so many benefits when done correctly. If you don’t tell your story, who will?
Rob Reardon has been in the fire service for more than 20 years and is a deputy chief in the Duxbury (MA) Fire Department, where he has worked for the past 19 years. He is an EFO and CFO graduate. He is the public information officer (PIO) for the Duxbury Fire Department, the Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team, and the Southeastern Mass Technical Rescue Team. Prior to working at DXFD, he worked for 10 years in the media for television stations and major newspapers as an award-winning photographer. His photographs have been used on the covers of many national magazines, newspapers, books, calendars, and trade publications as well as used worldwide on TV news. Reardon will be teaching “Social Media for Today’s Fire Service” at FDIC International 2021 in Indianapolis and has taught social media nationally. Follow him on twitter @reardonphotos and on Instagram @robreardonphotos and visit his Web site www.robreardon.com.